Time Magazine • Boston Globe •

San Jose Mercury News Discover Magazine San Francisco Chronicle

USA Today New York Sun

A New York Times Notable Book of the Year


New York Times Bestseller • San Francisco Chronicle Bestseller

Boston Globe Bestseller • Book Sense Bestseller

Washington Post Bestseller

Winner of the U.S. National Academies of Sciences’ Keck Award for Best Book of the Year


A journalistic masterpiece.”

— William H. McNeill, New York Review of Books


Marvelous ... a sweeping portrait of human life in the Americas before the arrival of Columbus ... Mann navigates adroitly through the controversies. He approaches each in the best scientific tradition, carefully sifting the evidence, never jumping to hasty conclusions, giving everyone a fair hearing—the experts and the amateurs; the accounts of the Indians and their conquerors. And rarely is he less than enthralling. A remarkably engaging writer, he lucidly explains the significance of everything from haplogroups to glottochronology to landraces. He offers amusing asides to some of his adventures across the hemisphere during the course of his research, but unlike so many contemporary journalists, he never lets his personal experiences overwhelm his subject.” Kevin Bacon, New York Times Book Review


Charles C. Mann's monumental retelling of pre-Columbian American history... Mann has a knack for explaining complex ideas in crisp, clear language ... 1491 is less a self-contained work per se and more an induction ceremony into what, for many readers, promises to be a lifelong obsession with the startling new perspective slowly opening up on this prehistory.” — Steve Kettman,


A landmark of a book that drops ingrained images of colonial America into the dustbin one after the other. ... Mann brings empathy, drama, and a well-calibrated sense of humor to his descriptions of [Europeans and Indians] first, fumbling contacts.”Roger Atwood, Boston Globe  

In the tradition of Jared Diamond and John McPhee, a transforming new vision of pre-Columbian America.”

— Richard Rhodes


Engagingly written and utterly absorbing ... exciting and entertaining. ... Mann has produced a book that’s part detective story, part epic and part tragedy. He has taken on a vast topic: thousands of years, two huge continents, and cultures that range from great urban complexes to small clusters of villages, a diversity so rich that our shorthand word for the people who inhabited the Americas — Indians — has never seemed more inadequate or inaccurate.” — Charles Matthews, San Jose Mercury News


When does American history begin? The old answer used to be 1492, with the European arrival in the Americas. That answer is no longer politically or historically correct. For the last thirty years or so historians, geographers and archaeologists have built up an arsenal of evidence about the residents of North America after the ice receded and before the Europeans arrived. Mann has mastered that scholarship and written the most elegant synthesis of the way we were before the European invasion.” — Joseph J. Ellis, author of His Excellency: George Washington


In a riveting and fast-paced history, massing archaeological, anthropological, scientific and literary evidence, Mann debunks much of what we thought we knew about pre-Columbian America. ... [1491] masterfully assembles a diverse body of scholarship into a first-rate history of Native America and its inhabitants.”— Publishers Weekly  

Powerful, provocative and important ... 1491 vividly compels us to re-examine how we teach the ancient history of the Americas.”

Alan Taylor, Washington Post


“Well-researched and racily written ... entertainingly readable, universally accessible ... There are few better introductory books on the civilizations of pre-Columbian America, and none so up-to-date” — Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, The Spectator (England)


A superbly written and very important book — by far the most comprehensive synthesis I’ve ever seen of the growing body of evidence that our most deep-rooted ideas about the peopling of the Western hemisphere and the kinds of societies that had developed there by the time of European contact are fundamentally wrong. Charles C. Mann is one of those rare writers who can take scholarly concepts exciting and accessible without trivializing them. In 1491 he has integrated the latest research in many different areas with his own insights and experiences to produce a fascinating and addictively readable tour through the ’New World’ before its ’discovery.’ His book is, above all, a wonderful, unsentimental act of restitution — challenging centuries of contempt and willful blindness to show just how vigorous, various, densely populated and profoundly human the pre-Columbian Americas really were.” — James Wilson, author of The Earth Shall Weep: A History of Native America


A Jared Diamond-like volley that challenges prevailing thinking about global development... provocative ... Mann explores the most recent generation of scholarship that increasingly suggests that an enormous indigenous population was wiped out by European diseases.” — Mary D’Ambrosio, San Francisco Chronicle


This book will immediately become a classic and the authoritative source on life in the Western Hemisphere before and immediately after 1491.”

William I. Woods, director of Environmental Studies, University of Kansas


Charles Mann takes us into a complex, fascinating and unknown world, that of the Indians who lived in this hemisphere before Columbus. He gently demolishes entrenched myths, with impressive scholarship, and with an elegance of style which makes his book a pleasure to read as well as a marvelous education.” — Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States


This is a volume of unparalleled historical and hemispheric sweep. Through a lively and comprehensive review, Mann brings together the most recent research from many fields to truly show us the New World in 1491—not a world of simple savages but rather one of thriving cities, states and empires, trade networks extending throughout the hemisphere, and landscapes everywhere shaped by native management. The civilizations of the Americas rivaled or exceeded those of Europe. This is the first volume that reveals the scope of the cultural loss created by the ‘great dying.’ A brilliant synthesis and sobering meditation on one of the planet’s great tragedies.” —Susanna Hecht, author of The Fate of the Forest: Developers, Destroyers, and Defenders of the Amazon


Every American knows it was a vast new world that Columbus found in 1492, and most imagine it was a thinly peopled paradise of plants, animals and hunter-gatherers waiting for civilization. The reality, Charles C. Mann tells us in his startling new book about the world before Columbus, is very different—two continents teeming with languages, cultures and mighty cities as big, as rich and even more populous than the capitals of Europe. But one thing the New World lacked—resistance to the diseases of the old. 1491 is lively and readable, filled with excitements and sorrows – a major contribution to our understanding of the achievements and the fate of the people we call Indians.” — Thomas Powers


An eye-opening book that requires us to rethink virtually every assumption we have had about the Western Hemisphere before the arrival of Europeans.”

— Jan Dizard, Charles Hamilton Houston Professor of American Culture, Amherst College


In his new book, 1491, Charles Mann offers a comprehensive overview and an urgently needed update on the main archaeological and historical issues in the Americas before European arrival. From the Bering Strait to the Strait of Magellan, he brings forth the main academic controversies and presents them not merely as scholarly squabbles but as the issues that help shape the way we live in the modern world. In a lively and well written book, Charles Mann helps us to see the Americas in a new historical light.” — Jack Weatherford, author of Indian Givers and Genghis Khan and the Modern World


Demonstrating an impressive mastery of the most recent scholarship on pre-contact American Indians, 1491 reminds us that, before Columbus, some native cultures had built intricate societies far more populated and complex than those developing in Europe at the time. ... [Mann] has little patience with the myth of the Native American ‘noble savage’ living in harmony with nature. Indians ... were not, he convincingly demonstrates, ‘suspended in time, touching nothing and untouched themselves.’ ... that datebound title gives his sprawling book an air of razor-edged purpose.” — James E. McWilliams, Austin American-Statesman


If you accept that there were tens of millions of people in the Americas in 1492, the common belief among the experts today, then you cannot reject what Charles Mann has to say. We all have been taught what the human species gained by the European invasion of the Americas. Now we have to consider what we, all of us, lost.” — Alfred W. Crosby, author of Ecological Imperialism and The Columbian Exchange


One of the most fascinating books on today's shelves ... perhaps should be required reading in schools and colleges.

Nicholas Horrock, Washington Examiner

  We all know the first Americans wrote, built cities, and erected monuments, but they also changed the landscape. Well-informed in the ways of Aztec, Inca, Maya, Amazonian and Mound Builder, Mann engagingly reviews the social, environmental, and even the genetic conditions that set up the conquest that would follow the clash between two worlds—a clash not only among cultures but among ecosystems as well.” — Anthony Aveni, author of Skywatchers of Ancient Mexico and Empires of Time  

What were the Americas like before the arrival of Christopher Columbus changed the native cultures of the Western Hemisphere forever? Mann, a correspondent for Science and the Atlantic Monthly, provides a fascinating, in-depth examination of this question ... Mann has done a superb job of analyzing and distilling information, offering a balanced and thoughtful perspective on each of his themes in engaging prose. ... Highly recommended.” — Library Journal


Unless you’re an anthopologist, it’s likely that everything you know about American prehistory is wrong. Science journalist Mann’s survey of the current knowledge is a bracing corrective. . . . An excellent, and highly accessible, survey of America’s past.” Kirkus Reviews



The nonfiction book that impressed me most in 2005.”

Ronald Wright, Times Literary Supplement (London)

Astounding... absolutely remarkable. — Franz Bibfeldt